25th September 2005
SECRECY IN GOVERNMENT -
One of the most irritating things about our government is the secrets
it has from we, it's people. I can actually see no legitimate
reason whatsoever for failure of full disclosure of all government
"What" you might ask "about Foreign Affairs? Secret treaties,
spys etc?". Well personally, I do not think we need any secret
treaties, or James Bond type spies. We do not need to have secret
negotiating positions on trade or diplomacy or politics. In fact,
I am not even sure that we need a diplomatic service, except maybe for
the purpose of rescuing Australian citizens, or as an outpost where
prospective visitors can apply for a visa. As for information,
well I have on my computer the newspapers (mostly with a comprehendable
translation) and the TV and radio stations of the world. From
can glean (as well as a local diplomat could) what the national
government (or the press baron etc) wants the people of that foreign
country to think. I
can look at Blogs from around the world, and (depending on the level of
government surveillance) from them I can obtain intelligence on what
of that nation are actually thinking.
Or you might ask "Well what about secret police business, or
surveillance of terrorists? How could we operate paid informers,
or undercover cops?". My answer is that undercover cops are not
very effective, often accused of "entrapment". Also that there
are too many "victimless" crimes, and that most crimes (theft, murder)
could be solved by a universal public surveillance system.
You are of course unlikely to raise the issue that Parliaments or
public servants should be able to keep details of their expenditure
So what I would like to see is a public accounts webpage on which it is
possible to trace every teabag of public expenditure, view the minutes
and agenda of every government committee meeting, and be able (through
the public surveillance network) to trace the movements of any of my
fellow men as they traverse public space.
The incentive to criminal activity will disappear as the certainty of
apprehension increases. Already, intelligent white collar
criminals will be curtailing their activities in anticipation of the
software detection tools that will be available to the police of the
next decade. As the surveillance network widens, we are already
hearing of criminals being apprehended as a result of public
This leaves only one more area of secrecy, and that is the secrets that
government forces it's citizens to disclose. I am talking about
income and taxation. Private citizens should be entitled to keep
any secrets that they desire. Governments should not force
citizens to disclose private information. This means getting rid
of income tax. How can that be achieved? quite simply, by
taxing land. Land is not "private", although we have the illusion
that it is. If you think otherwise, just try not paying your
council rates, or preparing illegal drugs on "your" property, or
Most of the English speaking world is suffering from what is variously
described as a real estate "bubble". The Economist believes that
there is either a spending glut in the USA, or a savings glut in the
East, with the UK & European & Japanese regions being
sorta somewhere in
Nobody really seems to understand what is happening.
OK. Here is diarist's version of what is happening.
I have stated on several earlier posts
that structural changes in
technology mean that Capitalism is now as dead as Feudalism in the
early 1800's. Here is the where, how & why.
Land is undertaxed, and there are too many infrastructure
monopolies. This has for the past few years produced
(unrecognized) raging disinflation. About the only things
not deflating are infrastructure monopolies (includes minerals) and
Estate, and these rises balance out the price falls in whitegoods, food
You might argue that Inflation is low, and that Real Estate and the
stockmarket are rising. So where does that leave Diarist's
argument that Capitalism is dead?
Real Estate and the Stockmarket are rising
because there is a surfeit of capital with nowhere to go. The
overabundance of capital has come about because of government
intervention (e.g the laws requiring contribution to retirement funds
example). That money has driven interest rates down, and driven
price of Stocks, Bonds & Real Estate over the moon.
Now that large corporations are no longer a safe haven for investment
(think GM, FORD, Airlines) our Khans of Capitalism (aka the Investment
Banks & Funds) are subverting the legislative process to obtain
investment access to infrastructure monopolies. (Much like the
Feudal Lords of an earlier era had enacted e.g. the Corn Laws to
protect their monopoly on primary production).
What are infrastructure monopolies? Well take for instance
or mining. By
it's very nature, transport infrastructure (roadways and airports) is a
monopoly. It is not viable to duplicate a transport system, so it
is a monopoly. There is only one set of minerals in the ground,
so after the finder's fee, that also is a monopoly.
Monopolies should be publicly owned. The
monopoly activity can be financed by
tender, built by tender, operated by tender. Profits from the
sale of the monopoly product should be paid into public revenue.
Pricing control for
transport, mining or the "local loop" infrastructure monopolies should
certainly not be handed over to the Khans of Capitalism.
What about Real Estate? Diarist suggests that we abandon Income
Tax & Sales Tax, instead collect a significant proportion of
Federal & State revenue from property tax. This will
Let me illustrate how these rules might apply to farms. Much of
the capital value
of a farm is anticipation of future capital gains. Given a real
estate tax that will block capital gains, the value of a farm would be
based on it's potential profitability, which is the margin between ebit
and tax. (ebit=earnings before interest & tax).
- Real Estate will no longer be a "sure bet" for investment of
- The price (and UCV) of land will drop, and real estate bubbles
things of the past.
- Small business will benefit, since the tax compliance burden will
- The tax surplus can be paid equally back to all citizens,
replacing all social welfare programs, school aid etc.
I would not suggest that these changes be introduced immediately.
Existing land taxes should be incremented gradually (in steps of say 5%
per annum e.g. from 0.5% of UCV (Unimproved Capital Value) to 0.525% or
0.55% of UCV),
and existing income taxes, Sales taxes & etc should be reduced
Publicly owned infrastructure such as the local loop & transport
networks, power & water distribution
infrastructure and the like should be put to tender for
operation/management, a lot like our garbage collection.
Social Security payments would be replaced by a
negative income tax. Most pensioners and employees would find
their circumstances were not changed radically. There would be
fewer public servants collecting taxes and disbursing pensions.
orderly transition, Real Estate would stop bubbling and cool off as
business began to expand at a higher rate.
- IRAQ -
The indications are that the Iraq invasion has failed. Full
credit to the victor who skilfully exploited the ethnic schisms in
Iraq, the idealism of the Western peacenik movements and the
gullibility of Liberal journalism. But it must be said: while the
strategic arguments for the invasion were compelling, the risks were
equally high. America did not learn the lessons of Kosovo.
That lesson is, a vocal government (or bunch of criminals - take your
pick) in exile is not a viable government. Invasion worked in
Afghanistan, where I understand the Taliban must pay double the
government wage to recruit fighters. It is failing in Iraq.
There are signs everywhere. The Saudi princes are warning of the
imminent problems. Riverbend is a mirror of
the confusion that seems to be universal. The new constitution is
defective. Perhaps the only solution is to start out over, and
elect a new college to devise a constitution, with a framework that is
flexible enough to not fail, yet firm enough to guarantee those minimal
liberties from which full liberty can be established. (I am
thinking of freedom of speech, a regular guaranteed democratic election
of representatives, some sort of independent judicial system that can
insist and hold government responsible to the constitution.)
If things go wrong, chances are, Iraq will split into three. The
Shia section in the oil rich Basra region would probably unite or
confederate with Iran and make problems with the Shia groups in the oil
rich Saudi border regions. The Turks will want to take over the
oil rich Kurdish sector in the north. They might meet some
opposition there. (How they must regret not helping out with the
original invasion!). The Sunni triangle around the modern (let
anyone who believes otherwise read these road rules, which could
equally apply in NY, LA or Sydney) city of Baghdad, not being a
viable economic entity, will probably federate with Syria, (not that
anybody wants that, but alone Baghdad is not viable.)
LATHAM'S DIARIES -
Mark Latham was the leader of the Australian Federal opposition until
the election last year. Shortly thereafter he left Parliament,
and has just published his diary of events.
This expose of the action behind the libel curtain around politics is
not really news to anyone. We
the people already sense that most journalists are envy driven
liberals, that most politicians are politically corrupt, but that the
way our constitution is framed, these are a necessary evil.
Mark Latham has probably added something to the debate by categorically
stating that the labour party cannot be reformed. I believe that,
despite Malcolm Turnbull's (press baron supported drive to
conservative) idealism, that the Liberal coalition also is beyond
I do not see any possible improvement short of introduction of direct
government, as set forth by Pauline Hanson, as exists in about half of
US states, as exists in Switzerland. As it stands, our elected so
called representatives rule unfettered between elections. The
only solution is to apply the manacles of public intervention.